Plots Against The Queen
IC date: Summer 91, 1007
OOC date: September 19, 2012
PCs: Kludge, Ruby-Blossom, Mad-Mare, Ghost-Salty

Eyup. The turqoise mare is back to being homeless - which really isn't an issue per say. She can be found puttering about town alone at the moment having spent the better part of the day just wondering and pondering; mostly along the lines of (I was dumb to think I could ever settle down somewhere. I shouldn't bother with things I can't tuck away and keep - everything else will just get taken away).

Speaking of homeless…

Kludge is walking along, pulling an improvised cart. It looks quite rickety, very unlike his usual construction. However, his wagon is a scorched shell of what it was, and he still needs a place to put his stuff. Thus, a hastily-built cart is the temporary fix so he can get his gear clear of the clean-up effort; a new wagon can be built once things have calmed down.

Upon seeing Ruby, he walks over, nodding to her as he comes withing conversational distance.

Ruby-Blossom 's pace makes it quite easy for Kludge to catch up - puttering along and all. She glances sideways to Kludge and openly admits "Makes me realize I was silly to think I could stay in one place, you know?

Kludge shakes his head. "Nothing wrong with that. You seemed to like it here, and it's just misfortune that hit. I even overhear somepony saying 'At least it wasn't the distillery again' during cleanup - it sounds like the occasional fire is fairly normal for here."

Ruby-Blossom hmms softly and quietly kicks the ground amid each slow step. "No, more like I don't think I belong here - or anywhere; it was foolish of me to think I did." not a hint of self-pity in her voice, just sincerity "So like nothing keeping me here, ya know.

Kludge shoots Ruby a sideways glance of disbelief. "What about the foals?"

Oh look, there's a Mad Mare too. Wandering out about the town's outskirts, dangerously close to the forest, completely ignoring the world. In favor of talking to herself, apparently. Enough pacing, that she's worried a rut in the grass next to the trail leading forestwards. Alone, to boot, not a goon in sight for miles around.

"Honestly… Nothing makes sense anymore. Two months ago I wouldn't have given a rip about some fancy new filly parading in to bloody up the local populace, now I'm thinking about trying to be a hero. I /hate/ heroes… Where in the handbook did it say you have to become what you hate? I missed that page…"

Ruby-Blossom scoffs softly "The foals and fillies have families and friends, everypony got along just fine without me. Don't pretend I'm any pony special." a mildly thoughtful look "I guess /you'd/ like be a little sad if I hooved it out of here - maybe a little." glancing away from Kludge "I'm being stupid, aren't I?" gushing honesty unlike her usual restrained self. Stopping mid-step to semi-lean against Kludge for a moment before shaking her head "Sorry. Suppose it's a good thing I didn't listen to doctors orders." though she does appear a little light-headed at the moment. She notices Maddie - taking a moment to curiously study her behavior before approaching - albiet with a little wobble in her step - perhaps she shouldn't have been up all night!

"Of /course/ I'd be sad if you left!" exclaims Kludge, still walking alongside Ruby. "I've never had much luck keeping friends, especially ones I'd trust with my secrets." Giving Ruby a small hug, he continues. "The fillies look up to you, y'know. Your singing inspired Siyana to get her cutie mark, and I don't want to think of what would have happened if you hadn't recued her from Queen Pegasus." As the two them catch up with Mad Mare, he calls out "Something on your mind, Maddie?"

"Usually comes after the next step in a quest," comes the irritating voice that only Maddie can hear. The ghost of the former mayor floats after Mad-Mare, having appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Too bad only the Syndicolt representative can see her. "You got your legs blown off. That's enough to make anyone reassess things. A little morality nibbling at your conscience? No big surprise. But hey, if you're gonna be a hero… Might as well do it big and loud, huh?"

"I didn't ask you…" Maddie mutters. To the open air. Or maybe to Kludge, since neither of them can see the ghost dogging her metal heels. "Furthermore, what would /you/ know about quests and conscience?" The Mad one stops in her pacing, apparently oblivious to the new arrivals. Yeling at…a stump? "You burned your own town down! Multiple times! For cryin' out loud, I'm supposed to be the crazy, ruthless, mob boss trying to wreck this town, and the bloody merpony I put in your place has the town in /better shape/ than you left it when you died!" Stomp!

Blink. Maddie's ears twitch, one eye shifting to spot the nearby Kludge/Ruby combo. "…"

Ruby-Blossom wanders close to Maddie and attempts to put on hoof on the other mare's cheek in a consoling fashion. "You alright?" Genuinely concerned! If Salty hasn't been about she wouldn't be aware that Maddie made a friend, now would she? "Is there somepony you're talking to?" her tone full of curiousity and without any hint that she thinks Maddie is being crazy - even if she!

Blink. Kludge isn't completely sure what to think of Maddie's seemingly strange behavior, but finds the things the stressed Watch Captain says to be… interesting. He stays quiet, figuring to learn more before he speaks up.

Salty blinks, and then settles down into a ghostly float on all four incorporeal hooves. "Well geez. Not like I ever did it on purpose. Can't help what my magic does sometimes." She shrugs. "And I'm not surprised that someone could do it better. Someone can always do it better." The ex-mayor pauses, and quirks a grin, giving her tormentee an elaborate bow. "After all, I am nothing if not the grandest of failures." She glances over at the oncoming pair and lifts a brow, looking them over, before ever so belatedly, something strikes her and she looks back at Maddie with a blink. "Wait, merpony? Whazzawha?"

At least, if the Mad Mare was going to accidentally spill her guts in front of somebody, it might as well be the closest thing to 'friends' she's happened to make in this Harbor. For whatever it's worth. She gets a stonefaced mask of an expression, her ears flicking back in slight embarassment. "Just…discussing things with the old mayor. Nothing new here." Indeed, rumors of the whole 'Salty Ghost' phenom had circulated ever since that first night in the Champagne Bay. But who can take such rumors seriously? Honestly?

Looking from Ruby, to the ghost, and back, she can only shake her head. "I'm going to launch an attack on that Queen Pirate's vessel in a day or two. I was…trying to talk myself out of it." A glance at Salty's ghost, and she shrugs. "I didn't do a very good job."

Ruby-Blossom curiously looks to where Maddie implies the Ghost to be - even giving a little wave of a hoof "Hello incorporeal former mayor." entirely serious in her introduction to the ghost whom she can't see - seems some pony takes Maddie's supposed delusions seriously around here! "Oh, her." she scowers softly for the briefest of moments. "Wouldn't it be far more clever to hire somepony to sneak aboard and take care of things in a far less town-threatening manner?"

"And I still think we should get her Weapon Master out from under her hoof - he sounds like an honorable pony," adds Kludge, who then nods to where the ghost is implied to be. "Miss Mayor," he says as a hello.

Salty blinks, and waves back, mystified. "Uh— hello. You can see me? Oh, but you can't hear me. Can she see me?" She waves her hooves around a bit, curious. "And hey, I could always do some reconnaissance for you, there, if need be. Since I'm invisible and all. Mostly invisible. … Invisible enough. And what're they gonna do to me anyways? Kill me? Hah!"

"Mmmmnoo, I don't believe either of them can see you. Or hear you." Maddie speaks to the dead mayor. Though a quick sidelong glance at Ruby begs the question. "…Can you?" All the suggestions, meanwhile, make the Mare squint. "Bah. That would be the /sensible/ thing to do, wouldn't it? Alright, well… Anything you can do would be appreciated, Ms. Ex-Mayor." Then to Ruby and Kludge, she brushes her mane back. "It's a suggestion… But I can't let that menace sit there for /too/ long. She's messing up the work I've done to actually..straighten certain things up." She grumbles. "So what do you suggest? Send a pony in to talk to her Weapons Master? About what?"

Ruby-Blossom gives Maddie a big ol' hug - afterall her guard appears to be done at the moment, and Maddie likes hugs even if she won't admit it! "I don't think I can see ghosts." she squints Salty's direction and attempts to activate ghost vision! "Mmnnn..nothing yet. How come /you/ can see and hear a ghost?" ponder ponder - recalling a previous conversation "Oh, might have something to do with how the ex-mayor died, huh?" not spilling details as she's not aware of how much is publicly known.

Kludge chuckles. "I can't see ghosts, either, but I don't mind working with one." Facing Maddie, he sighs. "Not sure what options there are for the Weapon Master, honestly. I have a long-shot hunch, but it involves looking through Ruby's journals."

Salty gets an irrepressible shudder, and blanches. "Eeuuugh, don't call me that! Hearing you call me 'Miss' /anything/, seriously, is like… I don't know. But it ain't natural!" Blegh! She makes a face, and then hops into the air to float around the group, curious. Ears perked. Eventually she rolls onto her back and floats along, with an exasperated groan. "What I wouldn't give to be able to /drink/ right now. Being sober is so dang /boring/!"

Maddie rolls her eyes at the hug, but she's not exactly pushing Ruby away either. Enduring, more like, with the stoniest face ever. "I don't know /why/ I see her. I just do. I'm not the only one though, that..Bone Mistress thing saw her just fine, and everypony saw /her/." Grumble, grumble.

"Anyway." She prods Ruby on the shoulder. Awkwardly. "Did your journal burn up? Or do you remember enough that can be helpful?" She glances up at the floating ghost. "/Miss/ Ex-Mayor is offering to help us spy things out, if we knew where to send her off to."

Ruby-Blossom cocks her head to one side curiously "Wouldn't spying entail sending her to Queen-Pegasus' ship?" the shoulder prod encouraging a tighter hug from Ruby. "The journal is totally safe, I keep all the important stuff hidden." she beams - poison joke still hard at work keeping her honest and sincere - perhaps a little to sincere as indicated by the affectionate nuzzle Maddie is forced to endure - in front of her ghost even!

Ruby's phrasing catches Kludge's attention. "Unless Queen-Pegasus has a method of apprehending ghosts, I doubt that Salty would have any problems… or is there more to Queen-Pegasus than her vanity and rage?"

Salty gives Mad a flat glare. "Oh, cork it, Sunshine," she mutters. She floats over to Kludge and inspects him, peering at him skeptically before making a few faces and twirling off to look at Ruby next. "So who're these schmoobs, anyway? … And why are you letting her cuddle you?" The ex-mayor stares… blinks, then brightens. "Oh! I see! You and her are an /item/ now! Excellent! Are you going to have teeny tiny earth pony babies? Are you going to spend all night smooching off the coast now? Will there be illicit looks and stolen butt-pats? Oh, this is /perfect/!" She falls backwards in the air, laaaaughing, like Mad in a relationship is the funniest thing since awkwardly sliced pizza. Maybe it is! Or maybe Salty's just a jerkbutt.

If looks could kill, the daggers Maddie's glaring at the already-dead ghost would have it even dead-er, like, fifty times over. "There's /nothing/ going on here." she replies to the eternally giddy ghostie. "She's just confused, is all." After all, nobody in their /right/ mind would keep trying to be so close to someone of Mad Mare's type. Nobody. The ghost just reminds her of that, every single time she sees it.

Maddie blows out a blustery sigh, finally giving Ruby a push away when something like nuzzling begins. "Can we /hear/ what's in your journal yet? Or do you intend to tease us with what might be in there until this Queen's blown the whole harbor up?"

Ruby-Blossom poos softly at Maddie as she's pushed away - even giving her a very definitive pout. "I'm not confused, and I'll go get my journal." she trots off - feeling a tad soured that her friendly affections were scored "Be back in a few." she mutters and trots back to her smolder ashpile of a home.

Since it will take a bit of time for Ruby to retrieve her journals and return, Kludge decides to focus on another front. "Need any construction for the main attack? I still have my tools, and I can build things that can take several hits to destroy."

Salty snorts, and elbows Mad in the ribs. Eh? Eh? "Better not let her get away, Sunny gal! Nopony knows wrath like the mare who's scorned. And plus, in my /inestimable/ opinion, you need to get laid." She cackles to herself, and kicks herself off into the air again to go sit on Kludge instead before Mad decides to do something silly, like retribution. (How she'd get back at a ghost, Salty doesn't know, but you can never be too careful.)

(Plus, Kludge has a neat hat.)

The turquoise mare returns - trotting up the trail and plopping down a few feet from Maddie and Kludge. She draws a pristine little journal from her saddle bag and begins to flip through it curiously "What is it you want to know?" glancing at Maddie - still appearing quite pouty.

"Oh for Pete's sake!" Maddie bounds after the ghost, swatting at the air above Kludge's back! "I don't /need/ anything! I don't /want/ anything! You forsaken spirit, begone with you!" Flail! Flail! But nothing works. Nothing ever works to send this spirit away. Not with the fresh ammo she just gave him.

So she gives up, grunts, and flops back onto her rump, metal legs splayed. "…Y'know what? I hope you come back. I hope you come back, just so I can kill you again. Maybe I'll go wish you back to life…" Then Kludge is asking questions! And Ruby returns too! "…Huh? Oh. Construction. Right. Build big blocky things that can stop cannonballs, and that ought to do." Then to Ruby! "Tell us…everything? What do you know? What will help? Spill the beans, pouty!"

Kludge nods in acknowledgement. Build something that can take cannon fire? Not too hard; just need enough sturdy layers to absorb and diffuse the shock. Place the wheels on the inside, so it can be moved into place with a minimum threat to its mobility. Heck, he might even have an idea on how to include a bunkered cannon or two! But designs can wait until after this meeting; now is a time for information and plotting.

Ruby-Blossom glances over the edge of the journal which is concealed behind the cover of another book, pretty ruby eyes quietly staring at Maddie from over the book as she mummers "Fine…" certainly pouty at the moment. "We know she's vain, mean, has a loyal crew. I guess you wanted to know about Tough-Love?" flip-flip-flip, perusing eyes. "Oh that's right..long of the short is Queen-Pegasus invaded a small costal town a few years back - it was much more recent than I thought. Tough-Love was defending the town." ruby-red eyes skimming the journal entry. "Queen and few of her men snuck through the barricade, and took the mares and foals hostage." a notable frown "She executed several before the men surrendered, at which point she began to…well teach them respect. Tough-Love promised his loyalty to spare his daughter, to prove his loyalty he was…ah lets just skip that, it's unpleasant.." frowning greatly. "A small port town a few days south of here?" looking up at Kludge than Maddie. "Oh…that's right. She's searching for the fountain of youth?" ponder ponder ponder then looks behind Maddie at the forest "You think?

Ghost Salty sighs, watching this all, though there's an irritated pause to itch at her ear. "Some people," she gripes under her breath. "I'll show you useless lump." Still, she's quite a useless lump at the moment, draped over Kludge and only half-listening to the conversation at hand, her chin tucked on top of his hat. SIGH. /SIIIIIGH/.

Maddie gets this /look/. It's so incredulous, the thoughts so crazy, that she forgets about being tormented by Salty. "Are you serious? Really? She's mean, she's cruel, she's evil, but all she's here for is to look for some stupid nonexistant magic water? That's so… Stupid. And yet, so fitting. Vain ponies, looking for a way to stay young forever. Well that's fine, they can go do it away from this port." Grunt. "So now we know Tough Love's past. How's that help us break his honor pact with Queen Meanie?"

Ruby-Blossom closes the little journal and replies to Maddie with a small shrug. "Not my speciality…" she admits before suddenly falling over on one side with an unexpected little "oof." she rolls over and attempts to stand up - legs wobbling under her weight - afterall she hasn't slept since waking up yesterday afternoon - and doesn't exactly have a bed to complete the recommended 3 days of bed rest "I think I'm going to take a walk."

Unbeknownst to Kludge, while a ghost can't feel much, they do have enough of a sense of touch to tell when there's an object under fabric. Ghost Salty can tell that there's *something* under his hat, but undoubtedly can't make out what it is.

"Want someone to walk with you, Ruby?" inquires Kludge, a look of concern on his face. He saw the wobble, and with the events of recent days he's being more proactive in lending Ruby a helping hoof.

Salty blinks, and blinks again. "Ooo, mysteries! I /love/ mysteries!" The ex-mayor beams and carefully pokes her hoof through his hat, moving slowly so as to try and see what…might…be…under there. She squints her eyes and pokes her tongue out as she does this, because… well, that's just what you /do/.

Ruby-Blossom shakes her head. "I'll be fine." she attempts to wave a hoof dismissively resulting in a face plant against the soft grass - muttering "I'll just stay here, seems like a good place to sleep, right?" sounding awefully exhausted "I'll be fi..zzzz" passing out right then in there from a combination of exhaustion and light-headedness from her mild head trauma. <3

Sigh. The Mad Mare pushes herself upright, willing her metal legs back to work to carry her in the direction of a wobbly mare. "No… You're going to walk to a bed now. You need rest." After all that, Maddie's going to suffer an act of kindness?

Apparently so. Even if it comes with a dangerous glare back at where Ghost Salty lurks. Make fun of it. Go ahead.

"…Go back to town Ruby." she advises, "I've got my boys already putting together a construction crew for the damaged street. Your place will be back up and running by next week if I have any say in it. Might even be able to get you a place to stay in the meantime." She turns her head to Kludge. "..Make sure she gets there, alright? Get yourself a room too. Both of you look like heck warmed over, and there's…" she chokes on the word. "…heroic…things to do. Like sic our resident ghost on the mystery of the Weapons Master."

Kludge nods, inadvertently breaking Salty's probing contact - although it didn't reveal much, anyway. "Will do. Once she's in bed, I'll work on some preliminary sketches for a siege tower." Unfolding some slightly singed blankets to add a layer of padding to the contents of his cart, he then carefully helps Ruby onto the cart. With the unplanned weight, the cart creaks more than usual, but as long as he takes it slow it won't have problems.